Marvel is churning out movies like never before, with at least 10 planned for release between now and 2019. The seemingly unstoppable superhero money machine was near nonexistent in the 1990s, though. DC was running out of steam with the Batman movies quickly becoming an embarrassment, and Marvel’s sole U.S. theatrical release, Howard the Duck, died an abysmal death in 1986. That all changed, thanks to Wesley Snipes in 1998.
Blade was Marvel’s first box office success, launching their ascent to the top of the superhero movie kingdom and spawning two sequels, Blade II and Blade: Trinity. With the actor celebrating a birthday, and Snipes hinting that there’s definitely a chance of fans getting a Blade 4, let’s look back at the film that started it all. Here are six Blade facts worth sinking your teeth into.
It wasn’t always Wesley Snipes who was attached to the vampire hunter role.
After doing three movies and a possible fourth on the way, it’s nearly impossible to picture any other actor besides Snipes wielding that katana. The movie had been in development for six years before its release. Before Snipes was dubbed vampire stalker numero uno, LL Cool J was up for the part. Marvel was already looking at Snipes to play Black Panther in a film, and considering Denzel Washington and Laurence Fishburne in addition to LL. Thankfully, executives came to their senses and realized that, because Snipes already had martial arts training, he’d be the best Blade. Sorry, LL. The ladies may love ya, but Marvel, not so much.
The movie almost had a controversial vampire baby experimentation scene.
It’s probably fair to say that American movie audiences can handle most things on film. Ridiculous violence, sex, we’ve seen it all. But what about scientific experimentation on an infant vampire? David S. Goyer revealed on the movie’s commentary that the film was going to have a scene where Blade and Whistler do experiments on an infant vampire for weapons testing, but the studio deemed it too disturbing and put the kibosh on Blade’s science lesson.
It was a cartoon that brought Whistler into the Marvel universe.
Blade’s mentor, Whistler, was never supposed to be a main character in Blade’s world. The character was created for Blade’s appearance in a 1994 episode of the Spider-Man cartoon show, and got such a positive response from Marvel CEOs that he was adopted into Blade’s regular storyline.
Marvel, for once, decided against a Stan Lee cameo.
It just isn’t a Marvel movie if old man Stan doesn’t show his face in some form or fashion, right? You may notice that Stan Lee is nowhere to be seen in Marvel’s first big hit. Technically, a Stan Lee cameo was filmed with him playing one of the cops who rushes into the nightclub to discover Quinn’s body on fire, but his cameo was ultimately cut from the final edit of the movie. Perhaps at 75, producers felt Lee was a little old to be playing a cop and was a better fit for a security guard’s uniform.
The movie didn’t do well with test audiences and had an alternate ending.
Blade‘s initial running time was 140 minutes, which was 20 minutes longer than the version that made it into theaters. The movie did terribly with test audiences, and executives had filmmakers trim it down. One scene that was not in the original cut, but edited in to build the movie’s climax, was the final sword fight between Blade and Deacon Frost. The original ending had Frost turning into La Magra and transforming into a large swirling tornado of blood. This scene received poor reviews because of its special effects and was ultimately scrapped. It was included as a special feature on the DVD version of the movie, though.
Marvel screwed over Blade’s creator.
One would think that Blade’s creator Marv Wolfman would be sitting pretty on a giant mountain of cash from the Blade trilogy. After all, it’s raked in $415 million in box office sales alone. Unfortunately for Wolfman, that’s not the case. When Marvel cut Wolfman out of all that Blade cash, and only offered him a payment for “characters created,” he and artist Gene Colan tried suing the comic empire for $50 million. Here’s the thing, though: Marvel has a legal team that no mortal can compete with, and he ultimately lost the case with not even a mention in Blade II.